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Legume Alliance busy week in Arusha…

20 September 2016Next week will be a busy time for the Legume Alliance in Tanzania.  A series of meetings will seek to push forward two programs that are looking at support for common bean and soybean growers in Tanzania.

One of the major constraints for farmers is access to the improved farm inputs such as seed, inoculants and fertilizer. Collectively these inputs give a major boost to farmers’ incomes and food security.

On Monday 26 September IITA and AFAP from the Legume Alliance – Scaling-up Improved Legume Technologies project -  will explore the policy barriers to supplying farmers with improved seed varieties. Research carried out with common bean farmers suggests that there is demand for better seed. There is also an increased awareness that refreshing seed every three years helps maintain higher production.

There are challenges however in relation to seed use in Tanzania, and these include: unavailability of the preferred varieties to small-scale farmers, policy related constraints impeding seed availability and use, technological inadequacies by the farming community with regards to good agricultural practices.  Seed that is grown in the informal seed system (Quality Declared Seed) can only be sold within the ward in which it was grown, which limits marketing opportunities.

David Kijazi from AFAP explained: “This work is not starting from scratch.  There has been a lot of important work done by our colleagues at AGRA through the Seed Policy Action Node.  They have developed policy briefs. So, this meeting intends to look at these papers, review the extent of their implementation by various stakeholders and identify any further issues that hamper increased improved seed use by small-scale farmers Tanzanian. We are specifically interested in how this impacts on the markets for soybean and common bean – but many of the issues are likely to apply to a wider selection of crops. We are pleased that a number of private sector seed companies have agreed to join us.”

On Tuesday 27 September CABI will be leading an inception workshop for a project called Gender and the Legume Alliance. The aims of the meeting are to explore what is currently know about how different information sources support different gender groups.  The project is specifically interested in how media can support farmers, especially women and youth below 35, across the legume value chain.

Silvia Silvestri from ASHC- CABI explains: “We will be consolidating the pathways of impact for the project and gathering partners knowledge on the effectiveness of the different information channels from a gender perspective; and the information bottlenecks for beans /soybean value chains as they currently exist. This information will help to inform the project baseline and fine tune how the project will proceed with our partners.”

From the afternoon of 27 September until the close of 28 September, the Legume Alliance members will be starting work on the mid-term review for Scaling-up Improved Legume Technologies (SILT).

Karen Hampson from Farm Radio International said: “The SILT project has two elements. First, there are demanding targets for reaching hundreds of thousands of farmers with information on technologies which will increase and improve their soybean and common bean crops. The funders expect us to be impacting on both attitudes and behaviours.  Second, we have committed to understanding what kinds of information works best, and for who, and packaging these lessons from the project.

Both of these work programs require us to reflect on what we have achieved and seek to improve the way we develop scale-up campaigns and collect data to show what has been effective. This is more complicated than many projects because we are working with multiple partners and multiple sources of media and interpersonal approaches. I expect it to be an interesting meeting!”

Wherever possible the Legume Alliance tries to bring run its meetings back-to-back. It sees this as a way of minimising the carbon footprint of its meetings and also ensure that the meetings are focused and synergies between different work strands are captured and capitalised upon.

Look out for updates from these meetings next week.